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Joint Academic Lectures GIDS and IMES: Prof. Vladislavjević Discusses the Global Democratic Ebb and Political Development in Eastern Europe

On 22 November, the Graduate Institution of National Development and IMES co-hosted academic lectures and invited Nebojša Vladisavljević, associate professor of Political Science, University of Belgrade, Serbia. The seminar attracted many teachers and students, including Taiwan Fellows of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who are currently conducting research visits to the Department of Foreign Affairs of our university. Nibojša Vladislavjević received a Ph.D. in Comparative Political Studies from the Department of Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science and has just resigned from his post-communist post as the president of the Serbian Political Society to protest politics. Vladislavjević’s speech begins with a debate about whether “global democratic” is reality or myth. Larry Diamond, a noted scholar of comparative political democracy, said that since 2006, democratic breakdown and erosion have been more frequent and that the rise of democratic decline and authoritarianism in large and strategically important countries are largely due to the poor performance of Western democracies. But others, such as Steven Levitsky and Luan Ahmad Way, argue that in a number of countries that were supposed to have been democratized, in fact, they are experiencing “democratic moments” rather than a democrat. As a result, Vladisavljević argues, the debate about whether “global democratic” is realistic or mythical is not over yet. Vladisavljević then illustrates the decline of democracy and the erosion of democracy. Democracy collapse refers to the rapid collapse of democracy, mainly in wartime Europe and the post-World War II Latin American countries, and democratic erosion is the slow collapse of democracy, mainly in the literature of democracy consolidation. He also cited Huntington’s research as an example of two waves of democratic decline, from 24 European democracies to 11 during the war, and the second, post-emergence Europe, such as Greece and Turkey. Vladisavljević then cited Lindbergh and Luhrmann’s research, citing empirical evidence such as coups, foreign intervention, and coup d’état by elected officials in an attempt to explain whether there is the third wave of democratic ebb and flow, and to emphasize that democratic erosion causes democracy. Regarding the recent “political authoritarianism” phenomena in post-communist democracies such as Hungary and Poland, such as media freedom being violated, minority interests being threatened, patronizing the problem of corruption and illiberal and fair elections, Vladisvljievich points out that these phenomena and problems in the post-communist democracies in Eastern Europe are the ones that have emerged after the end of the Cold War.

Vladislavjević also stressed that the post-communist countries experienced similar democratization, but had different results. Central Europe, for example has experienced rapid democratization, relatively slow progress in democratization in the Balkans and mixed regimes have emerged, while the
former Soviet republics coexist with authoritarian and mixed regimes. Consider the Balkans, where Vladisavljević points out that democratic erosion occurs in almost all countries, including Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Albania, and back into mixed regimes. He said the results of democratization in these post-communist countries were influenced by factors such as economic development, whether World War II had democratic political traditions and experience, whether civil society and market economy existed before democratization and international influence. Regarding the prospects for democracy in Central and Eastern Europe and post-communist countries, Vladislavjević believes that, in addition to their own political, economic, and social and cultural factors, democratic political performance and quality of the old Western democracies, and whether the EU is willing to actively play
the role of a democratic initiative will affect their prospects for democracy. He worries about the European Union’s relative neglect of democratic decline and erosion in Central and Eastern Europe’s post-communist countries in order to consolidate its organization and regional stability. The speech ended with a lively question. A student from the Graduate Institute of National Development asked the Serbian government and the people’s views on China’s investment in the country. Vladislavjević responded that China and Serbia are closer to each other because of their shared historical emphasis on building a socialist state independent of Soviet control and that most Serbian people are concerned about the positive impact of Chinese investment on the Serbian economy.

Q: Will the current US-led & “anti-China” atmosphere affect the prospects for democratic
development in Central and Eastern Europe and post-communist countries?

A: Vladislavjević responded by saying that, for example, the Saudis, including the government and most people, do not see China as an attempt to export authoritarian ideology through investment in order to influence other countries’ politics. But also from Serbia, a visiting scholar specializing in urban diplomacy has a different
opinion, arguing that Serbian scholars and society are still wary of China’s intentions and ambitions

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